B-115665, OCTOBER 1, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 133

B-115665: Oct 1, 1953

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APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY - SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE - CONSERVATION OF INTERIOR DEPARTMENT LANDS FUNDS OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE APPROPRIATED FOR ASSISTANCE TO LOCAL SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS AND OTHER COOPERATORS ARE AVAILABLE TO ASSIST A DISTRICT IN RENDERING. INSOFAR AS LANDS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ARE CONCERNED. THERE IS NO OBJECTION BY THAT DEPARTMENT. 1953: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER OF JUNE 8. REQUESTING TO BE ADVISED WHETHER FUNDS OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE THAT ARE APPROPRIATED FOR ASSISTANCE TO SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS AND OTHER COOPERATORS ARE AVAILABLE TO ASSIST A DISTRICT IN RENDERING UPON REQUEST TECHNICAL AND OTHER HELP TO LANDOWNERS AND OPERATORS ON LANDS WITHIN THE DISTRICT.

B-115665, OCTOBER 1, 1953, 33 COMP. GEN. 133

APPROPRIATIONS - AVAILABILITY - SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE - CONSERVATION OF INTERIOR DEPARTMENT LANDS FUNDS OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE APPROPRIATED FOR ASSISTANCE TO LOCAL SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS AND OTHER COOPERATORS ARE AVAILABLE TO ASSIST A DISTRICT IN RENDERING, UPON REQUEST, TECHNICAL AND OTHER HELP TO LANDOWNERS AND OPERATORS ON LANDS WITHIN THE DISTRICT INCLUDING ANY THAT MAY BE UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, PROVIDED, INSOFAR AS LANDS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ARE CONCERNED, THERE IS NO OBJECTION BY THAT DEPARTMENT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, OCTOBER 1, 1953:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER OF JUNE 8, 1953, ACKNOWLEDGED JULY 7, REQUESTING TO BE ADVISED WHETHER FUNDS OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE THAT ARE APPROPRIATED FOR ASSISTANCE TO SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS AND OTHER COOPERATORS ARE AVAILABLE TO ASSIST A DISTRICT IN RENDERING UPON REQUEST TECHNICAL AND OTHER HELP TO LANDOWNERS AND OPERATORS ON LANDS WITHIN THE DISTRICT, INCLUDING ANY THAT MAY BE UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR.

AS INDICATED IN THE LETTER, THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE WAS ESTABLISHED IN THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE UNDER THE ACT OF APRIL 27, 1935, 49 STAT. 163, 16 U.S.C. 590A-F. SECTION 1, IN PART, AUTHORIZED THE CONDUCT OF SURVEYS, INVESTIGATIONS AND RESEARCH RELATING TO THE CHARACTER OF SOIL EROSION AND THE PREVENTIVE MEASURES NEEDED AND THE CARRYING OUT OF PREVENTIVE MEASURES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ENGINEERING OPERATIONS, METHODS OF CULTIVATION, THE GROWING OF VEGETATION AND CHANGES IN THE USE OF LAND. SECTION 2 PROVIDED THAT SUCH ACTS MAY BE PERFORMED ON LANDS OWNED OR CONTROLLED BY THE UNITED STATES OR ANY OF ITS AGENCIES, WITH THE COOPERATION OF THE AGENCY HAVING JURISDICTION THEREOF, AND ON ANY OTHER LANDS UPON OBTAINING PROPER CONSENT OF THE NECESSARY RIGHTS TO INTERESTS IN SUCH LANDS.

BY SECTION 6 OF REORGANIZATION PLAN NO. IV, EFFECTIVE JUNE 30, 1940, 54 STAT. 1234, 5 U.S.C. 133T, NOTE, THE FUNCTIONS OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE WITH RESPECT TO SOIL AND MOISTURE CONSERVATION OPERATIONS CONDUCTED ON ANY LANDS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR WERE TRANSFERRED TO THAT DEPARTMENT, WITH THE PROVISION THAT THE FUNCTIONS SO TRANSFERRED SHOULD BE ADMINISTERED UNDER THE DIRECTION AND SUPERVISION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR THROUGH SUCH AGENCY OR AGENCIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AS THE SECRETARY SHALL DESIGNATE. IT WAS STATED IN THE MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT TRANSMITTING THE REORGANIZATION PLAN, AS THE REASON FOR THE TRANSFER, THAT, WITH RESPECT TO PRIVATE LANDS, THE SOIL CONSERVATION WORK OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS PRIMARILY OF A CONSULTATIVE CHARACTER AND CAN BEST BE CARRIED ON BY THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE THROUGH COOPERATION OF THE FARMERS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, BUT THAT IN CASE OF FEDERAL LANDS SUCH WORK INCLUDES THE ACTUAL APPLICATION BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SOIL CONSERVATION PRACTICES AND IS AN APPROPRIATE FUNCTION OF THE AGENCY ADMINISTERING THE LAND.

IT APPEARS FROM SAID LETTER THAT AFTER SUCH TRANSFER, THE VARIOUS FUNCTIONS UNDER THE SOIL CONSERVATION ACT RELATING TO ALL OTHER FEDERAL LANDS AND WITH RESPECT TO ALL NON-FEDERAL LANDS REMAINED IN THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND THAT THE TRANSFER OF FUNCTIONS RELATED ONLY TO A PROGRAM OF DIRECT SOIL CONSERVATION WORK ON LANDS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, AND THUS THAT THAT DEPARTMENT MAY COOPERATE WITH DISTRICTS BUT ONLY WITH RESPECT TO ITS LANDS, WHILE, ON THE OTHER HAND, THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CONTINUES TO HAVE AUTHORITY NOT ONLY TO CARRY ON A DIRECT PROGRAM OF SOIL CONSERVATION WITH RESPECT TO ANY LANDS OTHER THAN THOSE UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR BUT ALSO TO COOPERATE WITH THE DISTRICTS OR ANY OTHER AGENCY OR PERSON FOR THE PURPOSES OF CARRYING OUT THE ACT.

IT FURTHER APPEARS THAT SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS ARE LOCAL UNITS OF GOVERNMENT ORGANIZED UNDER STATE LAWS, WHICH GIVE THEM BROAD POWERS TO CARRY OUT THEIR FUNCTIONS AND THAT, GENERALLY, THEY HAVE AUTHORITY TO DO EVERYTHING NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT A WELL-ROUNDED PROGRAM OF CONSERVATION AS TO ALL LANDS WITHIN THE DISTRICTS AND ARE AUTHORIZED TO ACCEPT ASSISTANCE FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN CARRYING OUT THEIR PROGRAMS. IS STATED THAT, EXCEPT FOR THE RESEARCH ACTIVITIES AND FOR A LIMITED AMOUNT OF DIRECT APPLICATION OF PREVENTIVE MEASURES, THE ESTABLISHED POLICY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HAS BEEN TO CARRY OUT ITS FUNCTIONS UNDER THE ACT BY A PROGRAM OF COOPERATING WITH AND ASSISTING SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS, AND THAT, IN DOING SO, IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED ADMINISTRATIVELY DESIRABLE AND PRACTICAL IN FURTHERANCE OF THE OVER-ALL SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION PROGRAM OF THE NATION TO FURNISH TO THE SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS SUCH TECHNICAL SERVICES AND OTHER AID AS MAY BE AVAILABLE AND NECESSARY TO ASSIST THE DISTRICT IN CARRYING OUT ALL PHASES OF THE LAND USE PROGRAM ON ANY LANDS INCLUDED IN THE PARTICULAR DISTRICT'S PROGRAM. IT IS ALSO STATED THAT THE DEPARTMENT ASSISTS THE DISTRICT ITSELF AND NOT INDIVIDUAL FARMERS OR OCCUPIERS OF LAND AND THAT, IN ORDER TO CARRY OUT THE PROGRAM, IT IS DESIRABLE AND NECESSARY THAT THE PROGRAM BE CARRIED OUT WITH RESPECT TO ALL THE LANDS COVERED BY IT.

IT APPEARS THAT THERE ARE FEDERAL LANDS--- SOMETIMES INCLUDING LANDS ADMINISTERED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR--- WITHIN THE GEOGRAPHICAL BOUNDARIES OF SOME DISTRICTS AND THAT IN MANY INSTANCES SUCH FEDERAL LANDS ARE OCCUPIED UNDER LEASE OR OTHER ARRANGEMENT BY PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS OR NON-FEDERAL AGENCIES WHICH FREQUENTLY SEEK THE ASSISTANCE OF SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS IN ORDER TO FOLLOW GOOD CONSERVATION PRACTICES OR PRINCIPLES IN THEIR OCCUPANCY OF THE FEDERAL LANDS AND THAT, IN MANY CASES, IF SUCH OCCUPIED FEDERAL LANDS ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE DISTRICT'S PLANS THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE DISTRICT'S PROGRAM MIGHT BE SERIOUSLY

IMPAIRED.

THE VIEW IS EXPRESSED IN SAID LETTER THAT TO MAKE ANY DISTINCTION IN ASSISTANCE GIVEN A DISTRICT BY REFUSING TO COOPERATE WITH IT BECAUSE OF BENEFITS TO INTERIOR LANDS WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT WOULD ADVERSELY AFFECT THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE CONSERVATION OBJECTIVES OF THE ACT AND THAT NO SUCH RESTRICTION WAS CONTEMPLATED OR INTENDED BY THE TRANSFER UNDER REORGANIZATION PLAN NO. IV.

IT IS CLEAR THAT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF REORGANIZATION PLAN NO. IV THE FUNCTIONS OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE WITH RESPECT TO SOIL AND MOISTURE CONSERVATION OPERATIONS RELATING TO LANDS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR WERE THEREBY TRANSFERRED TO THAT DEPARTMENT AND ARE TO BE ADMINISTERED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR. FOR THAT REASON, AS YOU WERE ADVISED BY THE LETTER OF JULY 7, A COPY OF YOUR LETTER WAS FORWARDED TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR FOR A REPORT AND AN EXPRESSION OF HIS VIEWS RELATIVE TO THE MATTER. THERE HAVE NOW BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE UNDER SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR LETTERS OF JULY 29 AND SEPTEMBER 17, 1953, IN REPLY. IT APPEARS THEREFROM THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR HAS SINCE 1941 CARRIED ON A SOIL CONSERVATION PROGRAM ON LANDS UNDER ITS JURISDICTION AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CITED ACT OF APRIL 27, 1935, AND THE PRESIDENT'S REORGANIZATION PLAN OF 1940, AND THAT MOST OF ITS PROGRAM IS OUTSIDE OF SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS, BUT THAT THE INCREASE IN DISTRICTS IS BRINGING MORE OF IT WITHIN THEM. IT IS FURTHER STATED THEREIN THAT SOIL CONSERVATION OPERATIONS CANNOT BE FULLY EFFECTIVE UNLESS AND UNTIL ADJOINING LANDOWNERS COOPERATE IN PERFORMING THE NECESSARY CONSERVATION PRACTICES AND THAT FOR THAT REASON IT HAS BEEN AND STILL IS THE POLICY OF THAT DEPARTMENT TO COOPERATE TO THE FULLEST EXTENT WITH SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS AND WITH ALL AGENCIES AND PROPERTY OWNERS DEALING WITH THE PROGRAM.

IT FURTHER APPEARS THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE PROGRAM IS APPLIED TO INTERIOR LANDS ONLY IN CASES WHERE THE LATTER ARE INTERSPERSED WITH PRIVATE LANDS AND MAKE UP A SMALL PROPORTION OF THE TOTAL LAND ACREAGE, WHERE THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR IS NOT CARRYING ON A SOIL CONSERVATION PROGRAM OR AT BEST ONLY AN INCOMPLETE PROGRAM, AND WHERE WORK ON SUCH SMALL, SCATTERED TRACTS OF PUBLIC LAND NEEDS TO BE DONE SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH SIMILAR WORK ON ADJACENT PRIVATELY OWNED LANDS. IT IS REPORTED THAT SUCH PROCEDURE HAS BEEN WORKED OUT ONLY AFTER A NUMBER OF CONFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO DEPARTMENTS, THAT THERE IS NO DUPLICATION OR OVERLAPPING OF PROGRAMS OF THE TWO DEPARTMENTS, AND THAT THE PROCEDURE IS FEASIBLE, SATISFACTORY AND A DISTINCT ADVANTAGE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR.

IN VIEW OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES AS SHOWN BY THE ACTING SECRETARY'S LETTER AND THE REPORT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, THIS OFFICE WILL INTERPOSE NO OBJECTION, INSOFAR AS THE AVAILABILITY THEREFOR OF THE APPROPRIATION OF THE SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE IS CONCERNED, TO INCLUDING WITHIN A DISTRICT SOIL CONSERVATION PROGRAM LANDS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR SUCH AS REFERRED TO IN THE LETTER OF JUNE 8, IN SUCH CASES WHERE THERE IS NO OBJECTION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR TO THE INCLUSION OF SUCH LANDS UNDER ITS JURISDICTION WITHIN THE PROGRAM.